"Moss-covered canopy, Big Thicket National Preserve, 2015." by U.S. National Park Service , public domain

Big Thicket

National Preserve - Texas

Big Thicket is the name of a heavily forested area in Southeast Texas, United States. Several attempts to provide boundaries have been made ranging from only a 10 to 15 mile section of Hardin County to an area encompassing over 29 counties and over 3,350,000 acres. While no exact boundaries exist, the area occupies much of Hardin, Liberty, Tyler, San Jacinto, and Polk Counties and is roughly bounded by the San Jacinto River, Neches River, and Pine Island Bayou. To the north, it blends into the larger Piney Woods terrestrial ecoregion of which it is a part. It has historically been the most dense forest region in what is now Texas, though logging in the 19th and 20th centuries dramatically reduced the forest concentration.

location

maps

Official Visitor Map of Big Thicket National Preserve (NPres) Texas. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).Big Thicket - Visitor Map

Official Visitor Map of Big Thicket National Preserve (NPres) Texas. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Map of the U.S. National Park System. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).National Park System - National Park Units

Map of the U.S. National Park System. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Map of the U.S. National Park System with Unified Regions. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).National Park System - National Park Units and Regions

Map of the U.S. National Park System with Unified Regions. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Map of the U.S. National Heritage Areas. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).National Park System - National Heritage Areas

Map of the U.S. National Heritage Areas. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Trails Map of Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Texas. Published by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS).Trinity River - Trails Map

Trails Map of Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Texas. Published by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS).

Official Texas Travel Map. Published by the Texas Department of Transportation.Texas - Travel Map

Official Texas Travel Map. Published by the Texas Department of Transportation.

https://www.nps.gov/bith/index.htm https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Thicket Big Thicket is the name of a heavily forested area in Southeast Texas, United States. Several attempts to provide boundaries have been made ranging from only a 10 to 15 mile section of Hardin County to an area encompassing over 29 counties and over 3,350,000 acres. While no exact boundaries exist, the area occupies much of Hardin, Liberty, Tyler, San Jacinto, and Polk Counties and is roughly bounded by the San Jacinto River, Neches River, and Pine Island Bayou. To the north, it blends into the larger Piney Woods terrestrial ecoregion of which it is a part. It has historically been the most dense forest region in what is now Texas, though logging in the 19th and 20th centuries dramatically reduced the forest concentration. Life of all types abounds in the Big Thicket. This national preserve protects the incredible diversity of life found where multiple habitats meet in southeast Texas. Hiking trails and waterways meander through nine different ecosystems, from longleaf pine forests to cypress-lined bayous. It is a place of discovery, a place to wander and explore, a place to marvel at the richness of nature. The main corridor through the Big Thicket is US Hwy 69/287 between Beaumont and Woodville. Many smaller roads and highways branch off of the main corridor to reach trailheads and scenic areas. The visitor center is located at the intersection of US 69/287 and FM 420, about 7 miles north of Kountze and 30 miles north of Beaumont. Big Thicket Visitor Center Start your trip here! Get free maps and information, meet a park ranger, and learn about the Big Thicket's plants, animals, and history. Staying awhile? Watch a short film in the theater, browse the bookstore, and enjoy a picnic in the covered picnic area. The visitor center is located approximately 30 miles north of Beaumont, and 7 miles north of Kountze, at the intersection of US 69/287 and FM 420. No developed campgrounds in the preserve There are no developed campgrounds or backcountry campsites within Big Thicket National Preserve. The preserve issues free camping permits for backpackers. Boaters may get camping permits to camp on sandbars. There are several private and state park camping facilities in the local area. Cypress Swamp Bright green swamp with shallow water and many kinds of trees and jungle-like plants. When you think of Texas, do you picture jungle-like swamps? Staley Cabin A log cabin in a forest beneath a canopy of sprawling live oak trees. Historic Staley Cabin sits at the start of the Kirby Nature Trail. Canoe on Lake Bayou A park ranger paddling a green canoe on a slow-moving waterway below cypress trees. A canoe or kayak trip is the best way to see Big Thicket's waterways. Beaver Slide Trail Bridge A small wooden bridge on a trail through dense woods. Wander through the woods on the Beaver Slide Trail. Pitcher Plant Close-up of a carnivorous pitcher plant with the shadow of an insect inside. Visit in spring to see carnivorous pitcher plants. Red-Headed Woodpecker A woodpecker with bright red head clinging to a dead tree. Look for woodpeckers in Big Thicket's pine forests. Village Creek Bridge An iron bridge above a murky creek surrounded by dense woods. The bridge over Village Creek connects the Kirby Nature Trail to the Turkey Creek Trail. Cypress Knees Shadowy-looking cypress knees and their reflections in still water. Cypress knees, extensions of bald cypresses' roots, are abundant in Big Thicket waters. Cooks Lake Paddlers 2 people in a canoe and 1 person in a kayak paddle through a forested slough. Paddle beneath a canopy of cypress and tupelo on the Cooks Lake to Scatterman Paddling Trail. Sundew Trail A wooden boardwalk curving through dense ferns and pines. The Sundew Trail leads hikers through a wetland pine savannah. Fall Swamp Tall trees in a swamp, displaying bright orange foliage. Visit in November to see bald cypress leaves turn a rich orange hue. Anole on Palmetto A green anole lizard resting on an outstretched palmetto leaf. The beauty of the Big Thicket lies in its small details. Kirby Oak Sunlight poking through the canopy of a sprawling oak tree. Large live oaks welcome hikers to the Kirby Nature Trail. Wintry Cypress Slough Leafless bald cypress trees and knees stand in a swamp filled with leaves and branches in winter. Winter brings a different mood to Big Thicket's sloughs. Excellence in Wildland Fire Management In February 2015, the Fire Management team at Big Thicket National Preserve was recognized for their hard work and ability to maintain a high standard of excellence. Wildland fire operations at Big Thicket National Preserve ProRanger San Antonio Cadets Prepare for Wildland Fire Big Thicket National Preserve hosted ProRanger San Antonio on March 12-14, 2012 for wildland firefighter training in the Piney Woods forests of East Texas. The ProRanger second-year cadets participated in an eight-hour classroom refresher focused on risk management and fire preparedness. ProRanger is a career development program focused on creating new pathways for students into the National Park Service (NPS). NPS Geodiversity Atlas—Big Thicket National Preserve, Texas Each park-specific page in the NPS Geodiversity Atlas provides basic information on the significant geologic features and processes occurring in the park. [Site Under Development] bald cypress trees reflected in water Top 10 Tips for Visiting Big Thicket Are you planning a trip to Big Thicket National Preserve? Check out these 10 tips to make your trip a fun and safe one! kayaker paddling past cypress trees on a sunny waterway Changing Patterns of Water Availability May Change Vegetation Composition in US National Parks Across the US, changes in water availability are altering which plants grow where. These changes are evident at a broad scale. But not all areas experience the same climate in the same way, even within the boundaries of a single national park. A new dataset gives park managers a valuable tool for understanding why vegetation has changed and how it might change in the future under different climate-change scenarios. Green, orange, and dead grey junipers in red soil, mountains in background Battle of the Bark Trees shade us from the sun, provide homes for wildlife, stabilize Earth’s surface, and produce food for humans and animals alike. Some are massive, and others are miniscule by comparison, but what makes one better than the other—we’ll let you decide! Check out our iconic trees below and find your favorite! Five thick barked red-brown trees are backlit by the sunlight. Pollinators in peril? A multipark approach to evaluating bee communities in habitats vulnerable to effects from climate change Can you name five bees in your park? Ten? Twenty? Will they all be there 50 years from now? We know that pollinators are key to maintaining healthy ecosystems—from managed almond orchards to wild mountain meadows. We have heard about dramatic population declines of the agricultural workhorse, the honey bee. Yet what do we really know about the remarkable diversity and resilience of native bees in our national parks? Southeastern polyester bee, Colletes titusensis. Project Profile: Longleaf Pine Savanna Ecosystem Restoration The National Park Service (NPS) will increase capacity of an existing Longleaf pine savanna restoration program and leverage a cross-bureau effort to reintroduce endangered Red-cockaded woodpeckers at Big Thicket National Preserve. tall skinny longleaf pine trees dot a longleaf pine savanna ecosystem Project Profile: Orphaned Wells at Big Thicket National Preserve The National Park Service (NPS) has received funding under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) to plug orphaned wells and reclaim derelict oilfield equipment and sites in Big Thicket National Preserve. The two wells to be plugged have been declared orphaned by the Texas Railroad Commission (TRRC). This project will fund the plugging of wells, removal of oilfield debris, including flowlines, and reclamation of well sites and access roads. One orphaned well to be plugged amidst a forested landscape and road. Intern Spotlight: Bianca Joseph Meet Bianca Joseph, a Fish and Feathers intern in summer 2023! Read about her experience. A wooman smiling in front of a quarry Preserve Trivia: Big Cypress or Big Thicket? Two national preserves, Big Cypress and Big Thicket, are celebrating their 50th anniversary in 2024! Can you guess which park is which? a graphic with curly text that reads "National Preserve" and 70s-themed text "trivia".
Beech Creek tlrml[IJ • '• 0.25 0 0.5 Miles ,• ......... Beech Woo ds Trail (1.5 miles) Old Dirt Roads (Vehicles not permitted) ['.] Preserve Land ..rv---- Creeks CR4~75 Big Thicket Hiking the Woodlands Trail National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior Big Thicket National Preserve Beech Creek Unit The Beech Creek Unit The Beech Creek Unit consists of 4,925 acres. It has rolling terrain with numerous spring-fed streams and a beech-magnolia-loblolly forest community. Hunting is allowed in parts of this unit with a permit during the fall season; check with park staff about the exact dates of the hunting season each year. However, the hunting area is north of the Beech Woods Trail, so the trail is open year round. Hiking the Trail The Beech Woods Trail makes a 1.0-mile loop through a hardwood forest. It leaves the dirt road 0.3 miles north of the parking area. Hikers may also follow the dirt road, which extends for 6 miles through the Beech Creek Unit. Vegetation American beeches, southern magnolias, loblolly pines, and American holly are the most common trees in the Beech Creek Unit. In the spring, flowering dogwood, redbud, azalea, and Elliott’s blueberry color the mid-story. In the summer, look for the crane-fly orchid, whorled pogonia, and the beechdrops, three species which grow only under the shade of beech trees. White oaks, sugar maple, and strawberry bush provide a vivid contrast to the evergreen pines and magnolias in the fall. The winter landscape is marked by evergreen Christmas fern, yellow blooming witch hazel, and the lichen-mottled trunks of beech trees. Hunting Season While the Beech Woods Trail is not within the hunting area boundary, hunting is allowed in most of the Beech Creek Unit during part of the year. All visitors are advised to wear at least 400 square inches of Hunter Orange or International Orange when exploring this unit beyond the designated hiking trail during hunting season. Backpacking is not allowed in this unit during hunting season. Contact the Big Thicket National Preserve visitor center at 409-951-6700 for more information on hunting season. Know Before You Go All plants, animals, and other natural and cultural resources are protected in the preserve. It is illegal to collect, harm, or kill anything, including snakes. Wheeled vehicles are not allowed on this trail. Backpacking is allowed in the Beech Creek Unit during non-hunting season. A camping permit is required; these are available free of charge at the visitor center. Call the visitor center at 409-951-6700 for more information.
x Big Thicket National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior Big Thicket National Preserve Kountze, Texas Trails of the Big Sandy Creek Unit The Big Sandy Creek Unit is located in the northwest corner of the preserve, in Polk County, Texas. This diverse unit of nearly 14,000 acres allows hikers to experience at upland pine forests, beech-magnolia-loblolly pine woodlands, a cypress bog, and floodplain plant communities. Three developed trails prvoide easy access into the Big Thicket, while more adventurous explorers are welcome to travel off-trail into the wilderness. Woodlands Trail This 5.4 mile trail begins in an old pine plantation, planted around 1963 after the area was logged. This mature forest community skirts Collins Pond, a man-made body of water found just a short stroll from the trail entrance. The western portion of the trail follows the top of a slope, where beech, magnolia and loblolly pine trees are common. The eastern portion of the trail winds through the floodpain along Big Sandy Creek. The forest canopy becomes more dense in this area, creating more shade and less nutrients for grasses and shrubs. Common floodplain trees here are sweet gum, water oak, tupelo and basket oak, with an understory of hornbeam and holly. Fishing is permitted in Collins Pond and all the waterways in the preserve, with a valid Texas State Fishing License. Backpacking and primitive camping are permitted near the Woodlands Trail year-round with a free camping permit. In other parts of the Big Sandy Creek Unit, camping is permitted only during nonhunting seasons. Inquire with a park ranger for camping details. Hiking Tips • Let someone know where you are going and when to expect you back. • Drink plenty of water. Always bring more water than you think you might need. • Bring insect repellent, and wear sun screen. • Watch out for snakes. Look for lettered posts along the trail for assistance navigating this trail. Beaver Slide Trail More information is avalaible at www.nps.gov/bith and at the preserve visitor center, 6102 FM 420, Kountze, Tx. This 1.5 mile trail offers a shady retreat from the heat. Enjoy some solitude on this short loop through a floodplain along Big Sandy Creek. Abundant cypress, magnolias, hornbeam, moss, and ferns line this easy walk through the woods. A map of the Beaver Slide Trail is located on the back side of this brochure. Be Aware! Hunting for deer, hog, rabbit and other Texas game species is permitted in parts of this unit with a free hunting permit. Hunting season is typically in the fall and winter months. All the hiking trails are open year-around. We recommend all visitors wear hunter orange or international orange when exploring the Big Sandy Trail during hunting season. Ask a park ranger for more information about hunting season. Big Sandy Trail The Big Sandy Trail is 9 miles one-way, 18 miles round-trip. It follows a series of abandoned logging roads through several distinct plant communities. This multi-use trail is open to hikers, backpackers, bicyclists, and horseback riding. Big Sandy Trail Bicycle Use Bicycle riding is permitted on all park roads, parking areas, and on the Big Sandy Trail. This is the only trail in the preserve that permits bike riding. Off-trail riding is prohibited, as is the construction of jumps or other features. The use of helmets is highly encouraged. Horseback Riding Visitors are permitted to bring their own horses and ride on the Big Sandy Trail. This is the only trail in the preserve that permits horseback riding. Below are a few special considerations. • • • • Off-trail horesback riding is prohibited. Horses must stay on trail. Horses must be kept under physical control at all times and may not be left unattended. Tying horses directly to trees is prohibited. Hitch rails, when available, must be used. In the absence of hitch rails, horses must be tied to a line strung between trees in such a manner that stock cannot damage tree trunks, tree roots, or other vegetation. Grazing is not permitted. Hay is not permitted in the backcountry. Horse manure that has accumulated from tethering must be scattered. June, 2017 E X P E R I E N CE Y O U R AM E R I C A
x Big Thicket National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior Big Thicket National Preserve Kountze, Texas E X P E R I E N CE Y O U R AM E R I C A
x Big Thicket National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior Big Thicket National Preserve Kountze, Texas Plants that Eat Insects! Carnivorous Plants: Four of the five types of insect-eating plants in the US are found in the Big Thicket. Two short nature trails highlight the locations of sundews and pitcher plants in the the preserve. Butterworts and bladderworts have more specialized habitat needs and are much harder to find. Sundew Trail This 1-mile loop trail is a great place to see birds, wildflowers, and the bright red sundew plant. The fully accessible 0.3 mile inner loop winds past a small pitcher plant bog and through a wooded savannah that has abundant summer wildflowers. The outer loop of this trail passes through a longleaf pine savannah. Look for the dime-sized red rosettes of the sundew plant along boardwalks and in other disturbed areas along the trail. This area is closely managed by the preserve’s fire management team. Prescribed burns every 2 to 3 years play an important role in maintaining a healthy longleaf pine ecosystem. A detailed interpretive trail guide is available for purchase at the preserve visitor center. Pitcher Plant Trail This 1-mile loop trail leads visitors through a longleaf pine forest into the largest pitcher plant bog in the preserve. Follow the paved trail and elevated boardwalk into the wetland savannah to see hundreds of these funnel-shaped plants. Lured by the plant’s nector glands, insects fall into the pitcher, where digestive fluids and bacteria break down their bodies for absorption. The first quarter mile of this trail, from the parking lot to the pitcher plant bog, is fully accessble. The trail continues past the bog into a mixed hardwood/pine forest. It intersects with the Turkey Creek Trail at two different locations, so be sure to follow the signs carefully. Fun Facts about Carnivorous Plants • While the soil here supports lush plant growth, it is actually very poor in nutrients, particularly nitrogen. Insects provide the missing nutrients these plants need. • Carnivorous plants are capable of photosynthesis but obtain most of their nutrients from insects. • Some species of spiders, praying mantis, and frogs hunt insects at pitcher plants and eat them before they fall in. • You might think that these plants would help to control mosquito populations, but just the opposite is sometimes true. The larvae of some species of mosquitoes are impervious to the plants’ digestive juices. The adult mosquito lays her eggs in the fluid inside the pitcher plant, where the larvae develop and feed on trapped insects. • The most well-known carnivorous plants, the Venus flytrap, does not grow in the Big Thicket. It is native only to North and South Carolina. * Not all roads are shown on this map. July, 2017
Loblolly pine Water oak Pinus taeda Pinaceae (Pine Family) Quercus nigra Fagaceae (Beech Family) Basket oak Southern red oak Quercus michauxii Fagaceae (Beech Family) Quercus falcata Fagaceae (Beech Family) Laurel oak Bald cypress Quercus laurifolia Fagaceae (Beech Family) Taxodium distichum Cupressaceae (Cypress Family) Trees of the Big Thicket National Preserve Visitor Center Kountze, TX Use the map with the field guide to find 12 species of trees around the Visitor Center property! Red maple Southern magnolia Acer rubrum Aceraceae (Maple Family) Magnolia grandiflora Magnoliaceae (Magnolia Family) Flowering dogwood American sycamore Cornus florida Cornaceae (Dogwood Family) Platanus occidentalis Platanaceae (Plane-tree Family) American holly American sweetgum Ilex opaca Aquifoliaceae (Holly family) Liquidambar styracifula Hamamelidaceae (Witch-hazel Family)

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